Truth and Illusion
Reality is an Illusion
Have we ever really questioned this world we are living in? Have we seriously asked whether the world we live in is real or just an illusion?
Let’s have a reality check …
There are several reasons why we should check the reality we are perceiving from moment to moment. The first is that reality can present itself as real or as an illusion, or even both. Try to examine the photo illustration below,
The image presents several realities. Try to discover it. Each picture within the image is a reality. Yet, the entire image is an illusion. Within this illusion exists several realities. But the illusion itself can also be perceived as a reality.
If we cannot discern what is real from what is not, how can we be certain that the reality before us right now is real or not?
In the end, reality can be confusing to human observers. For, each and every one would stubbornly claim possession of the truth and for good reasons, not realizing that it’s only a matter of perspective. Truth is dependent on where and when one is viewing reality, as can be illustrated in the photo below.
The second reason why we should always be on guard is that reality is in flux. It is continually changing, disappearing in an instant while another reality presents itself. Take the case of the famous paradoxical cube below.
Which is the top? Which is the bottom? How many tops and bottoms can you spot? Try to identify at least two tops and two bottoms.
Try to notice also something while switching your attention from one top or bottom of the box to the other and back. Reality keeps on appearing and disappearing as we shift our focus from one reality to another. At times, we are lost in the process and we have to start all over again.
Oftentimes, we think we have already captured the reality we’re investigating. But as we hop from one reality to another, we are no longer dealing with the same reality. Our exploration has become an endless process of chasing reality. It is as though we are holding a chunk of ice in our hand, one moment seeing it melting, slipping through our fingers and vanishing into thin air the instant we feel the ice.
Particles physicists are telling us that, when we examine the quantum world, atomic particles (e.g., electrons), are so elusive; they appear just out of nowhere and, as suddenly as they appear, they also disappear into nowhere. Then, another particle comes as if from nothing, only to disappear again into nothingness.
Another quantum feature is that particles are not really what we believe they are. They have no form, size, weight, or material presence. Electrons are everywhere; they have no particular location. In fact, physicists are telling us that subatomic particles can be everywhere in the region of space, existing in several places at the same time but not located in any definite area.
What are these particles then? Physicists contend that electrons are energy and that its materiality is not real at all. Their manifested forms are mainly derivatives of energy and the only thing that is real is energy. What we touch or see is just an illusion.
If the physical reality out there is just a mere illusion, how then can we comprehend its essence? How can we discern what is real from what is unreal?
Today, the more quantum physicists dig deeper and deeper into the ultimate being of reality, the more they’re dragged into the quagmire of illusion and their efforts seem to be a process of going always back to where one originally started.
Getting a clear and coherent picture of reality can then be frustrating. Even as we think we already possess a rational and intelligible view of its nature and behavior, in the end we realize that what we have is almost always incomplete, confusing, incoherent, and jumbled. The more we stubbornly cling to what we see and hold as real, the more we miss the deeper meaning of reality.
But if reality is so slippery, does this mean also that we cannot do anything about it and that all efforts at creating or transforming the world out there is doomed to fail? Theoretical Physicist Lawrence M. Krauss once expressed this concern. But he takes an active stance.
For the record: Quantum mechanics does not deny the existence of objective reality. Nor does it imply that mere thoughts can change external events. Effects still require causes, so if you want to change the universe, you need to act on it.
In the end, we have to contend with ourselves continually chasing the elusive reality out there in order to know and act on it. We have to continue interacting with the wave-energy state, elusive as it is, since it is the one responsible for assembling our universe. We have to continue running after chaos and disorder to be able to understand them and discover the proper mix to achieve balance and equilibrium. We have to continue to be open, even ready to abandon, if only temporarily, our long-adhered beliefs.
Without doing these, we would not be able to create new societies or transform existing ones. Without our will to resolve chaos and confusion, without our persistence to confront risks and challenges, without the courage to move on forward into the unknown, we will not be able to offer alternative visions, programs, policies, and strategies into our ailing society, plunging economy, and vanishing ecology.
What Is Truth?
The Chinese sage Chuang Tzu admonished us a long time ago: “Shall we not follow and honor the right and have nothing to do with the wrong?” But what is right and what is wrong? How does truth differ from untruth?
Quantum physics tells us that truth is relative and that there can be many levels of truth. There are truths at the atomic and molecular levels. But there are also truths at the mental and spiritual levels. What is right or wrong for one might not be to the other (see photo below). For example, religious truths differ largely depending on whether one is a Hindu, Buddhist, Jew, Muslim, Christian, or atheist.
Philip Pullman, author of several best-selling books, must have expressed the majority opinion on this matter when he said:
I’m for open-mindedness and tolerance. I’m against any form of fanaticism, fundamentalism or zealotry, and this certainty of ‘We have the truth.” The truth is far too large and complex. Nobody has the truth.
If truth is relative, then, no one nation, race, gender, belief, or culture can claim monopoly of the truth. Insisting that we hold the truth and that others are wrong only breeds conflict that can lead to violence, bloodshed, and even wars. This is all too familiar to us today.
Truth is not only something external. It is something relative and subjective, a product of one’s personal encounter and experience with the world outside and within. What is true to me might not be true to others. If somebody experiences something to be true to him or her personally, who are we to say that he or she is wrong? Who authorized us to be the authority for judging others?
If we subscribe to the above views, as I do, then, the questions below have their merits.
Does it matter if others believe that there is only one God or more than a million gods? Does it matter at all if an individual believes in a God or gods and goddesses? Does it matter also if an individual belongs to one or more religious organizations, or even to none? What’s the use then of converting others to your religious beliefs?
To do so would be too presumptuous. Religious belief is something personal between the believer and his or her God. If there are indeed several levels of truth, then, one’s possession of truth does not mean that the others are wrong or incorrect. It’s simply a matter of perspective.
The parable of the elephant and the seven blind men clearly illustrates this point. The seven blind men touching different parts of the elephants came out with seven descriptions of the elephant. Each of their perspective interpretations is right and one blind man cannot say that the others are wrong. In fact, nobody argued that the other is wrong.
There are numerous cases demonstrating that truth is relative. For example, take the case of time. There are several time zones, which differ from one continent to another depending on the location. For example, 9:00 o’clock may be daylight for one but night time for the other.
No less than Albert Einstein also explained that time varies in speed depending on whether one is at rest or in motion Time for those travelling out there in space, at speed close to that of light runs much slower than those here on earth. What is 10 days of travel in space may be equivalent to more than 100 years here on Earth.
Truth then is influenced by time, space, and the conditions outside. Truths in the Western culture differ from those truths espoused in the Eastern tradition (see photo below). The Western mind is generally trained to be scientific, verbal, logical, and to rely more on the physical senses in their search for truth. The Eastern mind is more symbolic, intuitive, mystical relying more on intuition, synchronicity, gut-feeling, and serendipity. The West relies more on the mind, while the East more on the heart.
Does it matter then if what was perceived to be true was said 100,000 years ago or just recently? Does it matter if it was said in Iraq, Middle East, U.S.A., Europe, China, Russia, or Africa? Are truths determined by location?
I believe that what matters most is to communicate and dialogue with each other in order to live harmoniously as children of the same Cosmos. What matters is knowing what the others say and understanding them so we can dialogue and commune with them in peace and harmony. Free dialogue is what quantum physicists David Bohm and David Pea proposed:
...it is proposed that a form of free dialogue may well be one of the most effective ways of investigating the crisis which faces society, and indeed the whole of human nature and consciousness today. Moreover, it may turn out that such a form of free exchange of ideas and information is of fundamental relevance for transforming culture and freeing it of destructive misinformation, so that creativity can be liberated.
But dialogue was not in the agenda of the seven blind men. This is what is happening today in the world’s seven blind continents—Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America. Within each continent are equally diverse conceptions of truth and each insists on their own perception.
Today, we still find so many individuals clinging on to truths espoused by their respective disciplines, especially because they are being paid for not incorporating those truths outside their disciplines. As usual, business is business. It’s these fanatically treasured truths in us that close our minds and get us into trouble.
Judge Not and Ye Shall Not Be Judged (Luke 6:37)
Paul J. Dejillas, Ph.D.
March 16, 2022
Each of us can have differing interpretations of the world outside, suggesting that there could be as many worlds as there are people living on this Planet Earth.
Our understanding of the world outside is subjective and phenomenological. We know our world only insofar as we personally experience it. Like the proverbial seven blind men, the world inside us only reflects what we touch, feel, see, hear, or smell.
We cannot claim with certainty that our understanding of the external world is accurate. This would suggest that we know the external world in its vastness. But we don’t. This can be too much of a claim.
To do so would only make us absolutists, doctrinaires, totalitarian, and authoritarian. It’s a categorical declaration that we alone possess the truth and others are false.
Others have their own perceptions too based on their own personal idiosyncrasies. Their views are not wrong. They’re just incomplete and inaccurate.
We cannot impose our views on others. Everything is just a matter of perspective, dependent on where we are in space and time, and the events we experience during those moments.
Each of our own personal “I accounts“ then are just pieces and parts of the entire picture of reality, the elephant of the 7 blind men or the perceived lion of Albert Einstein.
We filter the world outside based on our own personal standards and biases. But it is not wrong; it is just incomplete.
I do not intend to impose on others the “Thou Shall Nots” given to Moses. The 10 commandments alone are already a heavy load to carry on my shoulders.
These are just some thoughts that came to my mind while reflecting on the events that are happening, now that the national elections are nearing.
The World Outside is a Illuson
Paul J. Dejillas, Ph.D. – June 11, 2021
Let's abandon our interpretations of the world outside. They're all delusions and illusions, holographic effects of other people's wild imagination. Let's instead allow our inner Self and Consciousness to manifest and reveal itself to the external world.
But I must admit that I started life by learning from others. But as I grew and mature in age, I realize I can transform myself better from within, without getting any help from outside. I can do it myself because all the necessary ingredients and power are endowed in me by a Bigger Force. It's still ok to learn from the outside but it's no longer my source of inspiration and transformation.
Reality or Illusion?
July 6, 2016
How do we distinguish between what is real and unreal? What is creating reality? What is creating the illusions? These questions are beyond the scope and treatment of the article. But it is good to note that Science and Religion (Mysticism) are now converging towards a common explanation to address these questions.